Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paint Like You Don't Have a Motive

Ever heard this quote? 

Dance like nobody's watching;
Love like you've never been hurt.
Sing like nobody's listening;
Live like it's heaven on earth.

I want to add:

Paint like you don't have a motive.

This should be the first "rule" of how artists work. To do this we must be uninhibited and passionate!

Inhibitions dry up creative juices.

Here is a list of distractors:

  • Wondering if it will "sell"
  • Over analyzing 
  • Overly concerned the "rules"/ technical aspects of painting
  • Ambitious / competitive
  • Behind in the job demands
  • Losing the inspiration behind the work
  • Comparing yourself to artists with more popular works 

Paintings are the words to the music of our lives.
Don't want to sound like a soap opera, but we can lose sight of the fact that all we are really doing is just showing the world our view. That's all original art is. To paint like you don't have a motive, leave inhibitions and materialistic motives behind and "adorn your painting with feeling". SHOW what that feeling is...  It may not be a prize winner, look like other art that is popular right now -or even sell. But it will be something you have done for yourself that feels good like singing in the shower and tending roses. It will make ALL your work have more soul and it will be a deep expression of who you are as a painter. You will always take pride in it. And you will know what connecting with a painting feels like.

Don't you think that people will pick up on that feeling when they see your work and connect with you? I do... I think that is what collectors are looking to do anyway. So put yourself out there.

Heart and soul works of art.
Here are some of my deepest most passionate "soul" paintings that I have mused over, prayed over, felt homesick and touched by, and adorned with paint and loved while I painted them. That takes a special kind of work. That means "putting yourself into your paintings." So I put my heart and soul into these works. There are many that will ALWAYS mean something to me and will always be some of my favorites. Here are just a few of those special works most that I have in my own collection:

 - An old barn near where I was born -©Dot Courson .

©Dot Courson- A road near Amish farms in our county 

Man on a mission - ©Dot Courson  (from a photo from a friend's mission trip)

©Dot Courson -Woods up the hill this past January's snow

©Dot Courson - An old place that reminded me of where I was born

©Dot Courson -A triptych of the Natchez Trace near where I've lived for a quarter century.

©Dot Courson -A painting I did right after meeting Andrew Wyeth and Helga in Maine

©Dot Courson  -Corner of the field near Corinth

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Art Scammers Listed Online

We artists paint and need to sell our work. The selling of my work is usually left up to my galleries and I'm not in possession of much since I send it out to galleries.   I pay galleries (or should I say they require?) 50% commission to sell and promote my work. 
 I am grateful for their representation. 

My website is not to sell work, it's for people to see the kind of work that I do and for them to know something about me in case they saw my work, Googled my name, or wanted to see other paintings or read my bio. 

And yes, sometimes I gladly enter into contracts with those who want me to do a private commissioned painting. These are often regional clients who have seen my work in ads or magazines in the South. I enjoy doing these commissions. And I have sold work to my longstanding Facebook friends from all over the world. However, for someone to just "stumble upon" my work online -and buy it is not realistic in my opinion.
Someone (now a sweet friend) with southern roots once called me from Jackson Hole Wyoming to commission me to do a painting.  Since she also had a vacation home nearby, I suggested that I include the painting in a show I was having  near one of her homes and invited her to come to that show to look at the painting before purchasing it. That way,  if she didn't want it- no pressure- someone else would probably want it. Also she could see my other works. She loved it though- and bought it, and so I gave the gallery it's commission. 

A REAL collector!

I say this to let you know that I'm as honest  as I can be, and will bend over backwards to make buyers happy with a purchase. I try to be fair to collectors, galleries and everyone involved.  I want 100% happiness all the way around. 

But these days I'm getting wary due to so many scammers who contact me. So unless I know them I will check out those who email me because I receive so many emails in broken English with stories of how someone really really loves and wants my work, etc ...and more often than not its just a scam. 

I've never been "taken" but have heard from some who have lost their work. One artist's bank actually took a check and then two weeks after mailing the painting, was told that the check was no good!

My latest was the most authentic sounding email I've ever gotten because it didn't have the usual convoluted story about how he and his wife were moving and needed it in a hurry. etc, etc,.... and it was from the UK - a country which I've never had any scam attempts before. Here are the actual emails:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 9:54 AM
Subject: Fall Lake Oil on Linen 11 x 14

Hello there,
My name is Rupert. Was going through your works and love this piece. am really interested I would like to make the purchase if it is still available.

Thanks and i await your response.


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: Fall Lake Oil on Linen 11 x 14

Hi Rupert,
This painting is available, and in my gallery- Southern Breeze Gallery. You can see it here at http://www.southernbreeze.net/tour156.htm
I see that it is listed as a 9x12 ...and priced accordingly.... but if my memory serves me right it was actually an 11x14. They will check and let you know if you contact them through the gallery.
Thank you for your interest in my work and let me know if I can help you with anything.

From this you can see the problem and time it takes with each of these scams. After writing him, I decided to search for a "data bank" to check out scammers and Googled this name & email:

 Rupert Smallwood and his Email: rupertsmall@yahoo.co.uk 

I found out there was such a site online.  Artquest has a list with probable art scammers and my old buddy Rupert was among them! I'm not surprised, just wish I'd checked before involving my gallery. I have no idea how accurate this site is and do not know whether this person is actually a scammer, but I'm not risking my artwork to find out......So now I am backtracking and sent my gallery the following email.

 Hi -
 Sorry- just checked and found that this is probably a SCAM. Do not respond to this email.  Googled his email address right after I wrote him that you had the painting, and got a long list of suspected art scammers. His email and name matched exactly. You may want to save this link:

Just wanted you artists who read my blog know about this list on Artquest's site !

But it's all good. I escaped unscathed and hope that you do so as well. Keep the brushes flying and I wish you many sales. 
Collectors let me encourage you to buy original authentic work. Original representational works have soul and it means something! I am writing next about "Chinese art factories" where so called "original" art is produced in assembly lines. So during the upcoming holidays BUY AMERICAN- or if you are not American- buy LOCAL!

Update: This added to the blog after it was posted originally:
His latest email:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 3:28 PM
Subject: Hello

How are you doing? Thanks for your prompt reply. Well, I'm quite satisfied but would also like to inquire about a minimum price...

Unfortunately, I'm on my way to France and few other countries on an official trip (I'm a marketing Executive) and wont be back for another couple of weeks, If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to the UK this month and I'm trying to gather some good furniture for my new abode. I'm buying yours piece amongst others, quickly! before someone else grabs it.:)
Glad if you could let me have me your phone no. so I give you a call.
Best Regards,

PS: In the mean time, you could forward me your full name and contact address so I can mail out the certified check to you ASAP.

So ah-ha! He IS moving!!! lol

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting- FUN!! ...Washing Brushes - Not too bad!!!

What can be more fun than painting?

Especially in the fall! This is a photo from the side back of our yard looking back toward the house.

Below is a photo of me that Jackie, my husband took without my permission today. I'm painting the trees right behind our house and studio. My studio is upstairs and overlooks the woods. but I had to be outside to feel the light and be eye level with the trees. I have been working outside on this daily at 4PM - but today it was 3 as time changed last night:...

It was a pretty day today!  Here is Scaredy- my cat today - she always keeps me company!
Okay brush washing!
Awhile back a friend asked how I washed my brushes and suggested that I blog about it.
When I'm outside painting en plein air, I rinse my brushes in the portable brush washer and take it inside to my studio to re-rinse in a large vat of Gamisol that I have or wash them with my cleaner on the road. Sometimes I  just use white soap away from home to wash them daily.


The product at home that I use to wash my brushes I heard about from a workshop with David Leffel who let us use his Really Works. It is hard to find but I buy it from a friend  from Jackson and she is the only Mississippi distributor I think. Leave a note below or email me  if you'd like her email. address.

Clean brushes inspire me!!

These are my favorite Trekell brushes! I love them!
This whole set is only $39.20!!! 
 At home, I wash my brushes after several uses. I just rinse them after use in Gamisol in a vat and dip them in brush oil daily when I am finished painting.Weekly I wash them in  Really Works.
Currently in studio I am happy with the setup I have. Because I hate to wash brushes I was delighted that
Robert Harper told me about two products that I now use and love.
The first is an Army ammo box that you can get at Army surplus stores or E bay. I fill it about half way with Gamsol solvent.

Jackie (my wonderful husband and "hand model" here to the left) made me a wire mesh screen to fit the bottom so brushes can swipe across it without getting into the settled sludge.
The vat is perfect to wash out all the paint from brushes daily making sure all the paint is removed and they are almost clean bushes :
Kafka brush Oil  & Preservative  

Rubber seal on the ammo box closes tight to prevent evaporation & for travel!

  • The other product that Bob Harper suggested was  Kafka Brush Oil and Preservative. Mine came from Dick Blick.  
Make sure the paint thoroughly removed by washing them by sloshing them back and forth  the Gamsol (which is purer and safer than turpentine or store brand odorless mineral spirits) or Turpenoid which comes from art supply stores. Then jjust dip (as pictured above) and wipe the excess oil off the bristles gently with a paper towel.

Once a week or so I clean the brushes as the above rinse and oil soak really does not remove all the paint form the ferrel of the brush. I dip the rinsed brushes into the Really Works....and wash them.

Washing brushes:

How to wash brushes: 
  • Dip the brush into cleanser or liquid.
  • Gently message the bristles from the ferrule working out toward the end of the brush. 
  • Repeat rinsing between with warm or cool water until the suds are completely clean and 
  • Also wash the handle at this time. 
  • Do not splay brushes out when washing as it will dislodge, loosen, or break bristles.
  • Do not use hot water - it may damage or loosen bristles. 
  • Gently reshape the bristles and pat dry with a paper towel. NOTE: I lay them flat to dry so water doesn't flow back into the ferrule of the brush 
(BTW- a ferrule is the metal part that holds the bristles on the end of the brush.)

 I hear that Pine sol works well too, but I've not tried it. Really Works smells like pine Sol. I also use white soap occasionally. But Really Works will soak out old dried paint if you have a really messed up brush. I just wrap it up inplastic and leave it a couple of days and then wash it .It's saved a many a brush for me!
New brushes and an unfinished 20x24 plein air landscape I started lately in the woods near our home. 
That's it!  Happy brush washing and happy painting!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

News from the studio...

It's November! Somehow doesn't feel Novemberish to me. Maybe it will once the time changes.I'm a night owl and am enjoying the light at the end of the day. That's about to change! Remember-time changes this coming weekend.

We had a wonderful group of artists here in Pontotoc coming to paint with Roger Dale Brown, at our third workshop this year. Roger is a great friend and had just returned from doing the Laguna Beach Invitational Plein Air show in California. It was perfect plein air weather here and we enjoyed some wonderful days painting with Roger and Beverly. Jackie and I always enjoy seeing artist friends and meeting new ones. This workshop, as usual- brought in students from three states: MS TN and AL to paint rural farms and fields in Pontotoc.  

Jackie hosted the workshop opening since I was at Southern Breeze Gallery who had a wonderful reception for my show on October 20th, If you have not been - I hope you get to go see my new work up close and personal.  I sent everyone who gets my NEWSLETTER images of my new works that were in the show - over 20 new paintings... Let me invite you to click on the Newsletter link above and sign up and view the archived newsletter. I don't send them out very often.

Several of my works were sold prior to the opening.....including this one:
Hot Hot Sunflowers 20x20 Oil. ©2011 Dot Courson

I have completed a couple of new paintings since the show! 

This one is at Caron Prince Gallery in Tupelo I named it Happy Ever After since it looked like I was riding off into the sunset as I painted it:

Happy Ever After 24 x 36 Oil ©2011 Dot Courson

Dru Jolly- a friend who's also in my class I teach in Tupelo. brought me some pomegranates (on the vine) from her daughter's home and also some fresh pears on limbs. I finished painting them last week:
Pomegranates and Pear 20x24 Oil ©2011 Dot Courson

I have this at home and it is my favorite painting since I painted Happy Ever After. There's a joke among artists that our favorite painting is usually the last one we did.....  : ) 

Until next time.... Dot